Today’s edition of the Murdoch Times claims that alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his pals are making a public-spirited gesture to benefit the NHS, with the headline proclaiming “Pension tax windfall for top earners … NHS crisis plan will benefit tens of thousands”. So the rationale behind this tax break is to help the struggling NHS, right? As if. It’s another Tory giveaway for the well-off.
Look over there!
So what’s the story? “Tens of thousands of high earners will receive a pension tax windfall under plans to solve a staffing crisis amongst NHS doctors, the Times has learnt … The Treasury is preparing to give tax relief worth hundreds of millions of pounds to those earning more than £110,000. The measure will stop doctors being hit with huge bills, which are causing them to turn down extra work and harming patient care”.
There is more. “Health service leaders are pushing for further concessions, a move that could scupper the plans because ministers are unlikely to go ahead with them if they are not welcomed by the NHS as a solution … Some in Government are trying to encourage moderate doctors to put pressure on unions to compromise”.
Or, to give a more accessible translation, doctors are being encouraged to put in even longer hours, but if anyone makes a fuss the deal is off. And this, to no surprise at all, is the conclusion reached by Dan Bloom at the Mirror: “Changes to pension allowances are being considered to stop a disaster in doctor cover. But experts warn it wouldn't fix the problem - and would instead hand a break to some of the nation's highest earners”.
Look who's behind it all
Do go on. “Ex-Lib Dem pensions minister Steve Webb, of Royal London, told the Mirror the system may be bad - but so was the idea to fix it. He said: ‘What's reported today wouldn't tackle the problem at its source - it just tweaks the figures … We will still have this ridiculous cliff edge. We will still have people not having a clue what they owe. It will just be a slightly smaller group of people’”. So the giveaway will not solve the pension problem.
Nor does it address the more basic issue of there potentially not being enough doctors in the first place, hence Bozo The Clown telling the Commons of the intention to recruit another 6,000 GPs. And nor does it deflect from the real issue: that the Tories are trying to divide health practitioners and thereby conquer in their battle to solve the inability of the now-stretched NHS to meet A&E waiting time targets - by scrapping them.
Look what the real story turns out to be
We know the Tories are trying to do this as the story, reliably sourced, is the front page lead in today’s Guardian. This tells “Plans to scrap the four-hour A&E target have sparked a furious backlash from doctors and nurses, with some claiming it is driven by ministers’ desire to avoid negative publicity about patients facing increasingly long delays. A&E consultants led a chorus of medical opposition to the move”. Hence the Tory move.
The Royal College of Emergency Medicine spokesperson pointedly observed “Rather than focus on ways around the target, we need to get back to the business of delivering on it”, with amateur Health Secretary Matt Hancock offering a feeble “We will be judged by the right targets. Targets have to be clinically appropriate”. He’s got no idea.
Trust the Tories to try and bung the better-off a tax break in order to take the heat off themselves. And trust them to make a complete Horlicks of the whole thing.
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